Call to stop child murders, abductions

Friday, September 14, 2018

Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu has called on delegates at the National Summit on Crime and Violence Prevention to deliberate on how to curb the rising reports of child murders and abductions.

The call comes amid several cases of children missing with others later being found killed across South Africa in recent weeks.

“I will call upon this summit to address this matter. It's a big concern, especially for parents. It’s a serious crime that’s failing you – human trafficking, with children being the victims,” the Minister said on Thursday.

To stop the abductions, Shabangu said police had to develop an integrated solution that will require working with communities, government and civil society.

She said her department relied on police to enforce laws of domestic violence.

In addition to the laws, the country had ratified international treaties which affirms the rights of South Africans.

“But we remain a country which has high rates of violence against women and children. The high levels of violence against women and children in South Africa are alarming. We all know what the crime statistics have revealed," she said.

She said the situation was not assisted by the fact that a large amount of cases were not reported by the victims.

“We all know that not all crimes are reported. We know that our people have lost interest in reporting crime and just feel helpless.”

This, she said, needed to change. Shabangu said laws defending perpetrators had been developed and passed but needed to be implemented.

Intervention programmes

In 2012, the government established an inter-ministerial committee on violence against women and children to respond to the challenges of violence in the country.

Furthermore, she said, the comprehensive strategy was developed to prevent acts of violence.

“Subsequent to this a programme of violence against women and children was approved in September 2013. The vision was to eliminate crime against women and children and it was based on three pillar. The first was prevention and protection which focused on transforming people’s lives and practice behavioural change.

“The second was for a response which focused on immediate intervention such as the command centre on gender violence, which provides a 24 hour telephonic counselling.

Care and support is the third pillar. It prioritises safety and long term empowerment of women and children while ensuring accountability and rehabilitation of perpetrators to reduce chances of reoffending

“These are critical matters. As we deal with these particular strategies and policy positions, the critical factor is the involvement of society as a whole, different communities, civil society. The reason I’m saying this is that we can have good policies but if we are not inclusive as a country, we will not be able to combat some of these heinous crimes.”

She said the department had embarked on various intervention programmes for the affected.

Socio-ecological model framework prevention

“The Department of Social Development has a responsibility to implement the socio-ecological model framework prevention which aims to stop violence before it begins. This framework is aligned to the two strategies and it considers individuals, community and societal factors.”

Shabangu said it allows for the department to understand the range of factors that put people at the risk of violence and protect them from perpetrating violence.

The department had also established national and provincial multi-disciplinary committees that identified crime hotspot areas and established school ambassadors to create awareness.

Therapeutic programmes

“We have developed therapeutic programmes targeting children in conflict with the law and also contribute to economic development through vocational skills, programmes that empower the youth and expose them to economic opportunities,” she said.

Cabinet recently adopted the second chance programme which intends to address the girl children who have dropped out of school, granting them an opportunity to further their studies. –